Private Residence Relief change announced
One of the most frequently used and valuable of the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemptions relates to the sale of the family home. CGT is a tax on the profit made from selling certain assets such as property, shares or other investments e.g. antiques and fine art. There are a number of exemptions available which can reduce or remove a taxpayer’s liability to CGT.
In general there is no CGT on a property which has been used as the main family residence. An investment property which has never been used will not qualify. This relief from CGT is commonly known as Private Residence Relief.
In general, taxpayers are entitled to full relief from CGT where all the following
conditions are met:
- The family home has been the taxpayer’s only or main residence throughout the period of ownership.
- The taxpayer has not been absent from the home other than for an allowed period of absence or because they have been living in job-related accommodation, during the period of ownership.
- The garden or grounds including the buildings on them are not greater than the permitted area.
- No part of the family home has been used exclusively for business purposes.
It is increasingly common for taxpayers to own more than one home and there are a number of issues that home owners should be aware. An individual, married couple or civil partnership can only benefit from CGT on one property at a time. However, it is possible to choose which property benefits from a CGT exemption when it is sold by making an election. There are special rules which determine the timing and frequency of changing an election that need to be considered.
As stated above, there is usually an exemption from CGT on the sale of a property which has been used as the main family residence. However, the sale of a second home such as a holiday home or a property that was bought as an investment and rented out either in the UK or overseas may be subject to CGT.
At present, if a property has been occupied at any time as an individual’s private residence, the last three years of ownership are disregarded for CGT purposes – even if the individual is not living in the property when it is sold, and may possibly be claiming Private Residence Relief on a different property at the same time.
It was announced as part of the Autumn Statement that from 6 April 2014 this final period exemption will be reduced to 18 months.